Don’t Give Your Baby Tooth Decay
Are cavities contagious? You may be surprised to learn that tooth decay in babies often begins with germs passed from adult to child. Babies are born without the bacteria that cause cavities; if your infant has been infected with those germs, you could be the cause.
Cavity-causing bacteria can be passed to a child through the saliva of an adult, usually the primary caregiver, who has tooth decay. A study in the journal Pediatric Dentistry found that mothers are the leading source of oral bacteria growth in their babies.
Cleaning a pacifier in your mouth before giving it to your baby or sharing food from the same spoon are common practices that can transmit these bacteria.
Experts say that your baby’s teeth are most vulnerable to infection when they are newly erupted, because the enamel on the new tooth is very soft. But even before your baby has any teeth, these germs can start the decaying process. And if the bacteria are allowed to thrive in your child’s mouth, they can linger there and attack the permanent teeth as well.
By taking the following steps now, you can help prevent infecting your baby:
- Be sure you and any other adults who have regular close contact with your child are in good oral health.
- Avoid mouth kissing and sharing food or utensils that pass from your mouth to your child’s.
- Clean pacifiers with water, not saliva.
- Clean your child’s gums with a soft cloth after feedings.
- Brush any erupted teeth at least twice a day with a baby toothbrush and water.
- Introduce a smear of toothpaste when your pediatric dentist approves.
- Start your child’s regular visits to our office when he or she is 12 months old, or when the first tooth erupts.
Taking these measures can put your child on the road to good oral health, something you can both smile about.
If you have questions regarding your child's oral health, click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jared. Or give us a call at (509)-891-7070.